Red Cross: Urgent Need for Blood Donors

As concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19 rise in the U.S., the American Red Cross strongly urges healthy, eligible individuals to give blood or platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and prevent shortages.

• Right now, communities across the country are following public health preparedness guidance –part of community preparedness includes a readily, available blood supply for hospital patients.

• Cold and flu season has already impacted the ability to maintain the blood supply. As the number of COVID-19 U.S. cases grow, there may be a further decrease in the number of people eligible to give blood to sustain the blood supply for patients in need. Blood and platelet donations are needed to keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time.

• Blood drive hosts also play a critical role in maintaining a sufficient blood supply and are asked to keep hosting blood drives for patients who rely on lifesaving blood.

• The Red Cross is dedicated to ensuring the safety and availability of the U.S. blood supply for patients including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need of transfusions.

• At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

• It’s important to emphasize that there are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide.

• Nonetheless, the Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. We are now asking that individuals postpone their donation for 28 days following:
o Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea;
o Diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the virus.

• We believe these mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection. • The Red Cross continues to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with the FDA, CDC and industry partners to determine if additional intervention strategies are needed.

If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

• Type O and platelet donations are especially needed right now.

• The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation. Donating blood does not impact or weaken the immune system.

• A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

• Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements